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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of Tank Cars with Subsequent Fire and Explosion on Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Rail Company

Executive Summary

At 4:00 p.m. on September 1, 1975, 17 cars of a Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad train, No. 81A31, derailed at the frog of a facing point switch on the main line near Des Moines, Iowa. The train was descending a 1-percent grade on a 1-degree curve. Eleven of the derailed cars contained liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Fire and explosions ensued; the LPG was consumed and three persons were injured.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board could not determine the cause of the initial derailment. The cause of the injuries and damages was the derailment of cars at or near the frog of the turnout and the subsequent tankhead punctures by disengaged couplers of the derailed tank cars.

Accident Location: Des Moines , IA    
Accident Date: 9/1/1975
Accident ID: 79819

Date Adopted: 6/30/1976
NTSB Number: RAR-76-08
NTIS Number: PB-256592/AS

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